Piece & Co.

"What's one thing that would make your life better?"

It’s this simple question that encouraged Kathleen Wright to launch Piece & Co. in 2011 while working for an artisan-focused nonprofit. The more she spoke with female artisans, the more Kathleen realized sustainable employment was the only way to pull these women out of poverty. No amount of business training or microloans could counter the unreliable ebbs and flows of tourist and holiday seasons.

Once Kathleen made it her mission to build a marketplace for artisan products, she quickly discovered brands that were looking for authentic alternatives to factory-produced fabrics and accessories. And with this idea, Piece & Co. was born. Their company operates in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Mexico, Nepal, Peru, Vietnam, and Zambia.

Notre Dame alum Mary McKenna works with the Piece & Co. operations team, which employs more than 4,700 women in 25 different countries. She has traveled extensively for Piece & Co., including to India—their largest co-op market. The biggest takeaway from her trips? Seeing firsthand the Piece & Co. model at work. Before Piece & Co. gets involved, an artisan group might have 60 people working with them, but they more than likely don’t have enough year-round work. Piece & Co. aims to bring them more (and hopefully larger) orders and eventually create enough employment opportunities to last the entire year.

Check out their website at http://www.pieceandco.com/